Heirs of the Promise

With the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, the blessings for all nations promised to Abraham commenced. The “Promise of the Father” is the Gift of the Spirit that Paul links to the Abrahamic covenant in his letters, and the covenant promises find their fulfillment in the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus of Nazareth. The bestowal of the Spirit on his church marks the commencement of the age of fulfillment, and “in him,” Gentile believers become full heirs of Abraham along with believing Jews.

And Paul equates the “promise of the Spirit” with the “blessings of Abraham.” The original covenant always envisioned the inclusion of the nations, a point he uses when contending for the acceptance of Gentile believers in the covenant community without the rite of circumcision.


All men and women who belong to Jesus become “Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise,” and “in Christ,” the old distinctions between “Jew and Gentile” no longer apply. The inclusion of the Gentiles is not an afterthought but was always integral to the Covenant. And the Gift of the Spirit is received from faith - (Genesis 12:1-3, Galatians 3:1-14, 3:29):

  • In whom, you also are hearing the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also believing, were sealed with the Spirit of the promise, which is an earnest of OUR INHERITANCE, for the redemption of THE ACQUISITION, for his glorious praise” - (Ephesians 1:13-14).

The Spirit is the “earnest,” the “down payment” that guarantees the disciple’s participation in the inheritance, and the references in Ephesians to “inheritance” and “acquisition” allude to the territory promised by God to Abraham - “I will give to you and your seed all the land of Canaan for an EVERLASTING POSSESSION” - (Genesis 17:8).

Thus, Paul connects the Gift of the Spirit to the Abrahamic Covenant, including its promise of territory. Likewise, Jesus labeled the Gift of the Spirit the “Promise of the Father,” and before his ascension, he commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received the Spirit, then they would become his “witnesses to the uttermost parts of the earth” - (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4).


In his sermon delivered on the Day of Pentecost, Peter declared that the outpouring of the Spirit was according to the prophecy in the Book of Joel - “In the last days, God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh.” The presence of the Spirit demonstrated that the “last days” were underway, an era that will continue until the return of Jesus at the end of the age - (Genesis 17:7-10, Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:38-39).

The Gift of the Spirit is how men and women receive the “blessings of Abraham.” By the Spirit, men from every nation find themselves blessed with faithful Abraham – heirs of the promises and members of the covenant community - (Genesis 12:3, Acts 3:25, Romans 4:13).

The actualization of the promises began with the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost. Since then, every man and woman who receives the gift becomes a “child of Abraham,” and therefore, the old boundaries that divided Jew from Gentile are wholly inappropriate in the new community formed by Jesus - (Galatians 3:27-29).


The Mosaic legislation itself anticipated the need for something beyond the Law. The Torah could not complete what God began with Abraham, and later, revealed in more detail through Moses at Mount Sinai. Inevitably, the nation of Israel disobeyed and violated the Covenant.

However, after chastisement and repentance, the nation would “return to Yahweh and obey His voice,” and He would gather His people from all nations and “circumcise their hearts to love Him” - (Deuteronomy 30:1-6).

The themes of renewal and the circumcision of the heart were taken up centuries later by the prophet Jeremiah. God fully intended to “make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,” but not like the Covenant at Sinai.

With the outpouring of the Spirit, God began to write His laws on the hearts of His people, and the promised circumcision of the heart was and is being actualized in the body of Christ - (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 8:6-13).

The Book of Ezekiel added the aspect of the Spirit to the promised “New Covenant.” When Yahweh gathered the children of Israel, He would put “a new spirit” in them, and thereby He would “cause them to walk in His statutes.”

And Ezekiel combines the promises of the Spirit, the circumcised heart, and the New Covenant. Thus, the covenant promises are linked to and dependent on the receipt of the Spirit - (Ezekiel 36:16-28, 37:25-28, 2 Corinthians 3:1-6).

Consistently, the New Testament applies the promises made to Abraham to the Gift of the Spirit that is now granted freely to Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus. And it is labeled the “Promise of the Father” and the “blessing of Abraham.”

The Gift of the Holy Spirit is the identifying mark of the people of God, and the Spirit provides believers with the power to walk in the New Covenant and fulfill the “righteous requirements of the Law.”


Language of the New Testament

Two Little Horns?